Basis: The death penalty is only imposed for aggravated murder. South Carolina has enacted a law that allows the death penalty for certain circumstances of child rape, but it is not clear that the law is constitutional.
Method: The State allows inmates to choose between lethal injection and electrocution.
Alternative sentencing: Since 1995, SC law has provided for Life Without the Possibility of Parole as an alternative to the death penalty.
In South Carolina, if someone commits a capital murder, he will die in prison, whether he gets a life or death sentence. One very common misunderstanding is that a life sentence doesn’t really last a lifetime, and that murderers typically get out on parole in a few years.
This is not true. South Carolina, like many other states, has enacted legislation that makes Life Without Parole an option, so that inmates given this sentence have no hope of getting out, unless his conviction is overturned (something that is less likely with a life sentence because no lawyer is appointed after the conviction) or the governor grants clemency (something that is theoretically possible but has never happened in South Carolina).
Clemency: The governor in his/her sole discretion has the power to grant clemency. No death row inmate in the modern era (since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976) has received clemency.
People on Death Row: There are currently approximately 45 men under sentence of death in South Carolina. (This figure is not precise because the status of certain inmates is ambiguous due to their insanity or other issues.) Men on death row are housed in Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville. There are currently no women on death row.